Monday, August 31, 2009

Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed...and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man and losing his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life--the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and returns to ask the help of the strongest man she knows...

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her, a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past...or lose everything that ever mattered.

While I have enjoyed all of the books I've read by Nalini Singh thus far, this one really captured me from the beginning, more so than any of the others. Maybe it has something to do with that fact that so many of the paranormal novels I've been reading lately have highlighted scarred women, but I found myself extra receptive to the delicate dance between Clay and Talin. Their back and forth, the balance Singh struck between these two characters establishing something new and remembering what they had was just so moving and this book will definitely be in my 'favorites to be reread often pile' and I hope you enjoy it just as much!!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up! Moving and joyful, with just enough action to keep you guessing and wanting more!

Series - 1) Slave to Sensation 2) Visions of Heat 3) Caressed by Ice 4) Mine to Possess 5) Hostage to Pleasure 6) Branded by Fire 7) Blaze of Memory (November 2009)

What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Only for those I love would I traipse into the merciless Northlands to risk life, limb, and my exquisite beauty. But do they appreciate it? Do they say, "Gwenvael the Handsome, you are the best among us-the most loved of all dragons?" No! For centuries my family has refused to acknowledge my magnificence as well as my innate humility. Yet for them, and because I am so chivalrous, I will brave the worst this land has to offer.

So here I stand, waiting to broker an alliance with the one the Northlanders call The Beast. A being so fearful, the greatest warriors will only whisper its name. Yet I, Gwenvael, will courageously face down this terrifying…woman? It turns out the Beast, a.k.a. Dagmar Reinholdt, is a woman-one with steel-gray eyes and a shocking disregard for my good looks. Beneath her plain robes and prim spectacles lies a sensual creature waiting to be unleashed. Who better than a dragon to thaw out that icy demeanor?

And who better than a beast to finally tame a mighty dragon's heart?

Let me tell you, you just don't often find the dialogue and banter that get in a G.A. Aiken (Shelly Laurenston) book. Gwenvael is RIDICULOUS (if you couldn't tell by the book description) and reading about his adventures gallivanting about and pretty much just f*#king with everyone he sees is hilarious! And The Beast is not any better! Dagmar's love of being the one who knows everything makes her the quintessential politician, and the one person who has just the right piece of information to either ruin or save you. Of course when these two get together the shenanigans are off the charts and then when you start bringing in all the extreme personalities that have starred in the other books in this series? Gold!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs way up. A great read that had me laughing out loud multiple times!

Series - Prequel) Everlasting Bad Boys (Anthology) 1) Dragon Actually 2) About a Dragon 3) What a Dragon Should Know

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son -and enforcer -of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposes Charles and his father is struck down. Charles's reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer -or Charles will take the fall.

One of the best things about this series are the uniqueness of Briggs' characters. Charles might be the quintessential Alpha Male werewolf, but Anna is a much meeker version of the werewolf heroine than is usually depicted. Yet the best thing about Anna is that meekness is only one facet of her personality, and in the defense of Charles or the right, she is just as willing to step and do her part (or more) as anyone else. Also, Anna stands as a great example of overcoming adversity. Her past is filled with emotional and physical abuse and while she has setbacks, she and Charles are also willing do what they must to build a life together. Briggs has again created a sympathetic character that readers are going to be cheering for by the end.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Briggs has created another fantastic series with main characters that won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Series - Prequel) On the Prowl (Anthology) 1) Cry Wolf 2) Hunting Ground

Greywalker by Kat Richards

Recovering from a near-fatal accident, Seattle Private Investigator Harper Blaine develops the ability to move through the Grey: the realm of ghosts, vampires, witches, and magic that exists between our world and the next. Harper wants her life to return to normal, but when her clients turn out to be paranormal, the reluctant Greywalker is drawn into the affairs of ambitious vampires and angry ghosts. As her cases converge, Harper uncovers a plot that threatens Seattle's Grey world and must choose between honor and survival.

I actually finished this book quite a while ago but I realized that I'd never done a review on it and it deserved at least little place on my blog. I shied away from this title initially because A) I was a little worried about all the new authors in the Urban Fantasy genre and whether this one would be worth my time and B) as a Trade Paper I wasn't sure I was willing to spend that money on a non-proven entity. Luckily I was able to distract myself until the mass market came out and now I can sure my thoughts with the world! I found the book surprisingly good and something that while not panting over, made me feel like I would enjoy the rest of the series - though possibly as library reads. Harper is a heroine reminiscent of an early Anita Blake, with the strength to do damage but maybe not the experience to handle herself in all the new paranormal arenas that she's discovered. Still, an interesting book and a good example of how new authors can surprise you by bringing enough of a twist to an established genre to keep you hanging around.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, but possibly more of a library read. Definitely not worth the Trade Paper price - Sorry Richardson!

Series - 1) Greywalker 2) Poltergeist 3) Underground 4) Vanished

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Obsidian Prey by Jayne Castle

Amber tuner and independent prospector Lyra Dore lost her heart-and her discovery of a rare amethyst ruin-to cutthroat businessman Cruz Sweetwater. At least she had her artistically talented dust-bunny to comfort her...

But the ruin's mysterious power has put everyone involved with the project in danger. And only by trusting their psychic instincts will Cruz and Lyra survive- and surrender to the desire that binds them.

Jayne Ann Krentz is another one of those authors I'd term an 'Old Faithful'. No matter the description on the back, I always end up enjoying them- and the books that she writes as Jayne Castle are no exception. Romance with a hint of the paranormal is always fun and the ones that take place on Harmony are that great mix of a little bit of the unknown with the familiarity of romance. I think it's the same type of thing that draws us to books with werewolves or shapeshifters - the idea that you could be destined for someone and that no one can tear that can of connection apart. The characters in this book were just as unique as in Krentz's other novels and I think like me you'll get a chuckle at all the references to the heroine having 'broken the heart' of the hero.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A great light read, one that I will happily add to my collection.

Series - 1) After Dark 2) After Glow 3) Ghost Hunter 4) Silver Master 5) Dark Light 6) Obsidian Prey

Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon

A stunning and suspenseful new landscape emerges in the thrilling Dark-Hunter world—a world where nothing will ever be the same again. . .

Fang Kattalakis isn't just a wolf. He is the brother of two of the most powerful members of the Omegrion: the ruling council that enforces the laws of the Were-Hunters. And when war erupts among the lycanthropes, sides must be chosen. Enemies are forced into shaky alliances. And when the woman Fang loves is accused of betraying her people, her only hope is that Fang believes in her. Yet in order to save her, Fang must break the law of his people and the faith of his brothers. That breech could very well spell the end of both their races and change their world forever.

The war is on and time is running out...

I've been waiting so long for Fang's story and I'm a little disappointed to say it wasn't quite what I expected. It wasn't horrible and Fang and Aimee get together in the end, but it was just a feeling throughout the whole book, like it could have been better. Fang and Aimee's story was as a friend put it, 'very Romeo and Juliet' - though you do have the comfort of knowing that the main characters aren't going to die at the end. Maybe I'm feeling a little lost with all the time traveling and story arcs that Kenyon has introduced. She has SO MANY books that are connected to the Dark Hunter Arc and they jump back and forth so much that truthfully I just forget what's going on. I read too much to always know what characters have done what and where in her crazy complicated world I am. Thus, that's my only reader beware - the books are good and addicting, but you can get lost in all the ins and outs of Kenyon's world. Maybe you should make an outline now.....

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. But things might be getting too much for me. Can it be that I might almost be losing interest? Oh God I hope not!

Series - Here's the deal people- she has three separate series in her world (Dark Hunters, Were Hunters, and Dream Hunters) and over 30 books. I've reached my limit, I'm not listing them all. I'm sorry if I've let you down (LOL) but you can check out her website here to take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Belong to the Night by Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden, and Sherrill Quinn

The Wolf, The Witch, and Her Lack of Wardrobe" by Shelly Laurenston:

Jamie Meacham has enough trouble controlling her supernatural abilities. There's no time for lust, or for Tully Smith, even with his smoldering amber eyes. But Tully's grappling with his own animal instincts as a powerful shifter-wolf, trying to protect all his territory-including a certain sassy witch-from vicious rivals.

"In the Dark" by Cynthia Eden:

FBI agent and leopard shifter Sadie James' undead ex, Liam, still arouses her deepest desires, distracting her from tracking the brutal rogue shifter who is terrorizing Miami. By teaming up with Liam, Sadie has a better chance of solving the case, but as passion consumes them, she stands to lose more than just her heart.

"City of the Dead" by Sherrill Quinn:

Dori Falcon is a witch with a plan: get to New Orleans, locate her missing brother, and recover the Eye of Bastet, a mysterious and powerful amulet. Her plan never included falling for sexy Cajun copy Jake Boudreau; but without his help, she may never find the demon who has her brother, and the key to her family's survival.

If you've read any of my other reviews you won't be surprised to know that I bought this anthology solely for the Shelly Laurenston story. She's probably my #1 favorite for funny, kick-ass erotic or romance. I mean, how can you not appreciate a woman who uses a phrase like 'molesting' someone's insides? That is as cool as all get out and you know it. The other two stories weren't bad either, but I would have preferred that the whole book was devoted to Laurenston - though I did feel like I was missing some back story just because of some of the couples that already existed in her story felt familiar. Sorry for the short review, but I'm already on to the next novel and I'm too distracted to say more about this one!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A fun read, with the characteristic violence and humor that make a Laurenston story great.

Series - None (I think....)

Monday, August 24, 2009

This means you too - I see you! (A Random Author Rant)

Do you know what I hate? I hate when eBook authors all of a sudden make it big (read 'published in print'), revamp their website, and LEAVE OUT every eBook they've ever had before and only include the new books coming out in the near and far future. This means you Christine Warren - and you too Shelly Laurenston! I see you! I bought your stories LONG before your first print book and I don't think it's very fair that you've abruptly decided that nothing created before the print version exisits! Do you know how long it takes to get a book printed? If you don't - what's wrong with you?!?! Don't tell me that you're publishing the first book in a series and then let me find out that it's actually related to about 15 other books that you've already released (that's you Lora Leigh).

Also, don't show me the books that you've published before and then tell me that 'Oops! Can't get them anymore! Even though they came out years ago online, you'll have to wait another few years before you can get them in print!' That's bullshit! I'm one of those freaks that you have a very good chance of taunting into purchasing the print copy anyway! When you've started messing with my series by publishing the latest novel in print, it's hard for me to fight the urge to go ahead and buy the reprints to see what else you've added to the new version or to keep my bookshelves consistent.

Finally - along that same point - how the hell am I supposed to recommend a series to people if the only thing they can get is the latest novel? What about all the back story, all the emotion and history that works to make a particular series so memorable? Give me a break here! I love recommending things to people but I don't want to break the law and forward on my own copy- I bought it to support you and I want other people to buy it too! The whole thing drives me crazy. Give me a chance here to increase your numbers! I'm pretty sure the extra income couldn't hurt.

So yes authors - when you get the chance to make that jump from eBook to print, please don't forget the readers who've gotten you there. Those who have purchased, recommended, and purchased again. We're not stupid - a little respect for our powers of observation and I would be a lot less annoyed about the whole thing.

P.S. - Another side note to this? An author changing to a pseudonym for one of her series when it goes into print but leaving her name alone for others. If it's all marketed to pretty much the same audience, who the hell wants to go about all the work of making sure they've caught the newest thing? Authors - you suck enough money out of readers on a month to month basis that maybe you could throw us a bone and stick to one name at time. K, thanks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one--except Eugenie--seems willing to find out why.

Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren t making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty--even if it means facing the darkest--and deadliest--side of her nature...

This was an unexpectedly dark, but good, sequel to Storm Born. Eugenie is now the ruler of the Thorn Land and against her own better judgment is intrinsically linked to the Otherworld. No matter what Kiyo or her father Roland might think, Eugenie reveals herself as a person determined to do the best she can for her people - an important characteristic for a fantasy novel heroine. I think what struck me the most reading this novel is that Eugenie is a power hungry person - though I don't mean that in a bad way. She is intrigued and attracted to the legacy she was gifted by the Storm King and while in the beginning she might have been hesitant to learn more, Eugenie quickly realizes that to adequately protect herself and her people she will have to embrace her dark side. I was impressed with that switch - heroines don't get to usually have blood thirsty tendencies (unless you're in a Laurell K. Hamilton novel). I definitely recommend this series but be warned - this is a dark sequel; bad things happen to good people and (maybe it's a new trend in the urban fantasy genre) the heroine doesn't always make the clear cut 'good person' choices.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A darker novel but still a lot of fun - and the most important bit is that it definitely makes you want to read more!

Series - 1) Storm Born 2) Thorn Queen

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Out of the Light, Into the Shadows by Lori Foster and Erin McCarthy

The darkest hour is before the dawn... headlines a sinful new anthology where the dark and light sides of desire collide...

Embrace the darkness and experience the light in this all-new anthology filled with touching stories of happily ever after alongside smoldering tales of irresistibly dangerous, otherworldly passion. From bewitching emotions and untamed desire to dazzling romance and tantalizing sensuality, these novellas explore the complex facets of the human heart—both the light side and the dark.

I personally find that back cover explanation the most useless piece of information ever so I'm going to do a quick recap before we do the review. This anthology has four stories written by two authors (L.L. Foster is Lori Foster's paranormal genre pseudonym) and each authors' set of stories are connected to each other. Meaning the characters are all know each other and in the second story you see men and women from the first. Here are the stories in this particular anthology:

1) Lori Foster - "Have Mercy" - Mercedes didn't need another 6 months to know that she was in love with Wyatt and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. But how was he going to handle an over protective brother and the possibility of a baby on the way?

2) Erin McCarthy - "Deal or No Deal" - Katie is a vampire. One that's over a hundred years old and managed to survive the end of Tsar era in Russia. Michael is another vampire - one that will do anything to get back the love of both his life and undeath even if it means fighting against a 90 year old misunderstanding?

3) L.L. Foster- "Total Control" - Brax will no longer deny his desire. Cameo is his and it is fine time that she realizes that her only future will be with him! (Mercedes' Brother)

4) Erin McCarthy - "Undead Man's Hand" - With Katie all settled in with Michael, it's finally time for Nick to get his chance at a little eternal love. Jordan might be determined to do the best job she can, but being a murder cop in Vegas has it's ups and downs - and it's definitely a down moment when a new serial case is dumped in her lap. But maybe things can't be too bad if there are hot Russian body guards like Nick around to help take your mind off it all?

All in all I thought this was a good anthology. Unsurprisingly to me Lori Foster's stories outshone both of Erin McCarthy's by a big margin, but that's just kind of the way things are with Foster - she usually writes a damn good short story and it's hard to compete with that. Both as 'Lori' and 'L.L.' the stories were sizzling yet emotionally satisfiying, though in her 'L.L.' story you can definitely feel the hint of darkness that permeates more in her paranormal works. I just felt like McCarthy's stories were pretty average, with the endings in both (though Nick and Jordan's was a bit better) very predictable and without any of the challenge or connection that makes such a short story worth while.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. While McCarthy's stories aren't the greatest, Foster makes this an anthology I'm happy to have on my shelf.

Series - None.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bengal's Heart by Lora Leigh

Reporter Cassa Hawkins has always supported Breed rights--especially in light of a specimen like Cabal St. Laurents, the epitome of the male animal. But when the Breeds are incriminated in a series of violent murders, it's left to Cassa and Cabal to discover the truth before they become prey.

Lora Leigh never disappoints and delivers another smoking hot read in the Breed series! I would place her among the best of mainstream erotic authors and a woman who can really take great sex and make it work side by side with amazing plot. In this latest book Cassa and Cabal are center stage - both characters who have made appearances in previous books in the series. Yet only here do we really begin to understand their joint past, because unlike in some of the other books where the characters are meeting for the first time in the present (Leigh's timeline), Cassa and Cabal share over a decades worth of history with each other, something that makes the interactions between them even more honest. It's got some great bloody action and while the deaths might make you cringe, it's hard to sympathize when you realize that a bunch of Council people are finally meeting with their (in my opinion) justified demise.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Another good book where sex and plot combine for a rollicking good time!

Series - 1) Tempting the Beast 2) The Man Within 3) Elizabeth’s Wolf 4) Kiss of Heat 5) Soul Deep 6) The Breed Next Door (in Hot Spell anthology) 7) Megan’s Mark 8) Harmony’s Way 9) Tanner’s Scheme 10) Wolfe’s Hope 11) Jacob’s Faith 12) Aiden’s Charity 13) In a Wolf’s Embrace (in Beyond the Dark anthology) 14) Dawn’s Awakening 15) A Jaguar’s Kiss (in Shifter anthology) 16) Mercury’s War 17) Christmas Heat (The Magical Christmas Cat anthology) 18) Coyotes Mate 19) Bengals Heart

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cast in Silence by Michelle Sagara

A member of the elite Hawk force that protects the City of Elantra, Kaylin Neya has sacrificed much to earn the respect of the winged Aerians and immortal Barrani she works alongside. But the mean streets she escaped as a child aren't the ones she's vowed to give her life guarding. Those were much darker….

Kaylin's moved on with her life—and is keeping silent about the shameful things she's done to stay alive. But when the city's oracles warn of brewing unrest in the outer fiefdoms, a mysterious visitor from Kaylin's past casts her under a cloud of suspicion. Thankfully, if she's anything, she's a survivor….

First let me just say that no matter how this description sounds no one is going to be kicking Kaylin out of the Hawks any time soon. We do finally get to learn about her past, the previously only mentioned time between Kaylin leaving Nightside as a child and reappearing as a Hawk trainee. This is again a really good fantasy novel, one that has intriguing characters and draws the reader into the world created. Sagara continues to define herself as a force to be watched in the fantasy genre and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Another fun addition to an engaging series. I would not recommend reading it independently of the other books, because most of this novel builds upon information learned before to create its story.

Series - 1) Cast in Shadow 2) Cast in Courtlight 3) Cast in Secret 4) Cast in Fury 5) Cast in Silence

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mastered by Love by Stephanie Laurens

The men of the Bastion Club proved their bravery secretly fighting for their country. Now their leader faces that most dangerous mission of all: finding a bride.

As the mysterious leader of the Bastion Club known as "Dalziel," Royce Varisey, tenth Duke of Wolverstone, served his country for decades, facing dangers untold. But as the holder of one of England's most august noble titles, he must now take on that gravest duty of all: marriage.

Yet the young ladies the grand dames would have him consider are predictably boring. Far more tempting is his castle's willful and determinedly aloof chatelaine, Minerva Chesterton. Beneath her serene faƇade lies a woman of smoldering sensuality, one who will fill his days with comfort and his nights with sheer pleasure. Determined to claim her, he embarks on a seduction to prove his mastery over every inch of her body . . . and every piece of her heart.

I LOVE Stephanie Laurens and this book is just a great reminder of why that love is so justified. She is hands down my favorite author for regency England romances, I don't care how historically inaccurate they might be. Her woman are just strong representations of femininity, strong without obviously kicking ass or taking names - subtlety is the word for a Laurens heroine. And in this book Laurens another compelling hero in Royce - the head of the Bastion Club come home at last to claim his Ducal title. It's one of those books that while it might look like it only has a simple plot from the outside, is actually quite complex and the twists and turns that result in the happy ending are engaging and enjoyable. I highly recommend it, as a stand alone or as the last in the series.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs (way) up. A great conclusion and a wonderful example of what makes Lauren a pinnacle of the romance genre.

Series - Prequel) Captain Jack's Woman 1) The Lady Chosen 2) A Gentlemen's Honor 3) A Lady of His Own 4) A Fine Passion 5) To Distraction 6) Beyond Seduction 7) The Edge of Desire 8) Mastered By Love

Redemption Alley by Lillith Saintcrow

Some cases are unusual - even for Jill Kismet.

When her police contact asks her to look into a "suicide", she suddenly finds herself in a labyrinth of deception, drugs, murder -- and all-too-human corruption. The cops are her allies, except for the ones who want her dead. The hellbreed are her targets, except for the ones who might know what's going on. Her city is in danger, time is running out, and each lead only draws her deeper.

How far will a hunter go when her city -- and her friends -- are on the line?

Just far enough.

Step into Redemption Alley...

This is an interesting series. It's not as compelling as those written by Simon R Green or Karen Chance, but there is just something about this character that makes you want to keep reading - even when she's annoying. Because I understand the importance of a flawed character, one that doesn't get too full of herself or her own powers, but I usually get sick of pseudo-whinging. Of the 'oh poor me for not connecting all the dots and figuring out everything in time to save everyone' mentality that some heroines can have. I think what makes this book worth the read is the intriguing combination of the mundane and the supernatural. Jill doesn't usually handle anything but the incredible, but this time she's under fire by humans - humans who don't even seem to understand all the ins and outs of who she is. Yes there's a paranormal component that comes out in the end (what kind of fantasy novel would it be without one?), and yes I'm sad that her were-animal partner is off visiting his dying mother, but it's a high octane read and if you've already read the other two books it's definitely worth your time!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Read better, definitely read worse, so I say go for it. The number of enjoyable paranormal detective novels is not that high and this one you can add to your shelf guilt free.

Series - 1) Night Shift 2) Hunter's Prayer 3) Redemption Alley

Sorry I've Been Missing!

Hey people, sorry I've been so absent! Work and life BOTH went crazy and I just wasn't able to post like I wanted to. My family causes me no end of stress and worry (as I'm sure yours can too) and so even over the weekend I didn't find time to write! But I did find time to read!

I've got plenty of books finished and I'm going to concentrate on creating reviews for them today. The end of July and the beginning of August brought a lot of interesting titles thus it will be worth your time to check back periodically through the day and see what might be good to add to your collection! Thanks!